Forgotten Indian Soldiers of WW 2 | Dunkirk

Dunkirk is a 2017 war film written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. It portrays the Dunkirk evacuation of the Second World War. The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo and also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers during WWII from the beaches of Dunkirk, in the north of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940.

The Dunkirk evacuation

The war was between the Germans and the French. The British had come to support the French, as they were also part of the Allies. (WWII was between two powers: the Allies and the Axis.)

At the start of the war in 1939, the British Army was said to have been the only fully mechanized army in the world. But when the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) went to France, the need for animal transport was felt. Their vehicles could not move easily through the rough terrain and mountainous regions in France. So four Indian Animal Transport companies of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps were sent to aid the BEF by delivering mules to them. This group was given the name ''Force K6''. These mules had their voice boxes surgically removed back in India before being sent to France so they wouldn’t bray and attract their enemies’ attention. The Indians did all this for Britain, but what did they get in return?

The British realized the Allies could not survive the Germans' attack, and started planning Operation Dynamo. Operation Dynamo was the code name for the Dunkirk evacuation. The plan was that British ships would come into the port of Dunkirk, rescue the soldiers, and sail back to Britain.

However, the British decided they didn't need the 'extra load' and planned on leaving the Indians behind. That's right. The Indians, who did all this for the British, were going to be left behind in France to be captured and killed by the Nazis. The few British soldiers who actually felt bad for the Indians and wanted to help them, were later punished. One such example is Colonel Ashdown, who pretended he couldn't hear those orders and took his troop of Indian men to Dunkirk anyway. After getting to Britain, he had to appear before a court martial.

Out of the four Indian units of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps that went to France, three were rescued and one was captured. More than 36,000 Indian soldiers died in France. Indian soldiers were also holding fort in North Africa and West Asia while the British were fighting in France. As Captain John Tucker says, without the Indians, the whole world would’ve come under the domination of the Axis alliance.

And what did Nolan do about these soldiers? You guessed it right; he left them out! Not one scene with Indians in the whole movie! As suggested by John Broich, associate professor of history at Case Western Reserve University, the involvement of Indian soldiers in the film would have provided a good reminder of how utterly central the role of the Indian Army was in the war. Their service meant the difference between victory and defeat.

Why did Nolan leave the Indians out of the movie? Were we just the boring part of the story? What do you say? We await comments from all you proud Indians reading this blog.

Author : Kavitha Kannan | Teacher @ BVM International School